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Walnut students build city of the future
future city pic1
Walnut 6th graders work on building their future city, "Garnicia." For the third consecutive year, students from Walnut Elementary will participate in the Stanislaus County Future City Competition. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal

Across the nation, teams of middle school students are working to imagine, design, and build cities of the future, a task that 6th grade Walnut Magneteers are familiar with.

For the third consecutive year, students from Walnut Elementary will participate in the Stanislaus County Future City Competition on Wednesday at the Peterson Event Center in Modesto.

The annual challenge has received national attention and acclaim for its role in encouraging middle schoolers nationwide to develop their interest in science, technology, engineering and math.  For many months, Future City participants at Walnut have discovered how engineering is both accessible and can make a difference in the world.

“We’ve been working on this project for over four months,” said Jamie Garner, a sixth grade teacher at Walnut and FCO advisor.  “The students have put a lot of hard work and dedication to make this city the best it can be.”

Using SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition software, Walnut students have worked with Garner and volunteer mentors to design a virtual Future City model incorporating their ideas.

“Our students decided to name the futuristic city Garnicia,” said Garner.  “We’ve split the students into separate groups where they focus on different key factors.  They research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges.”

The winner of the Regional State Finals will advance to the National Finals in Washington, D.C., in February.

“We definitely have an advantage over many students from the other schools that are participating in the competition,” said Garner.  “We’ve participated in FCO for the past three years and every year I’ve become a stronger advisor to my students.  Students have worked diligently on this project and are very dedicated.  This project is also a great way to teach the students without having to use paper or pencil.  They begin to appreciate the world around them through extensive research from this project.  We stand a really good chance of winning this year.”